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Germany's new law eases citizenship rules for descendants of Nazi victims

Germany's new law eases citizenship rules for descendants of Nazi victims

Germany's new law eases citizenship rules for descendants of Nazi victims

The German government has approved a draft law to close a legal loophole that previously left some descendants of Nazi victims unable to claim German citizenship

Law will enshrine citizenship rights for descendants of Nazi victims

Described by authorities in Berlin as a symbolic step, the draft measure will close a gap in the law that had previously led to many victims' ancestors having their citizenship applications rejected, and naturalise those who were denied citizenship because of the loophole. 

The descendents of persecuted Jews have long had the right to reclaim citizenship in Germany, but the lack of a legal framework resulted in a number of applications being rejected before the rules were changed in 2019. 

For instance, some were denied citizenship because their ancestors fled Germany and took on another nationality before their citizenship was officially revoked by Nazi authorities. Others were denied under a gender-discriminating rule that did not recognise the children of German mothers and non-German fathers born before April 1, 1953. 

Germany wants to give applicants a firmer legal footing

The new, largely symbolic, law will set in stone the change adopted in 2019. Interior Ministry spokesperson Steve Alter said formalising the rule was intended to give applications a stronger legal position and give them “the value they deserved.” 

“This is not just about putting things right, it is about apologising in profound shame,” Germany’s Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer. “It is a huge fortune for our country if people want to become German, despite the fact that we took everything from their ancestors.” 

Abi

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Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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